“Sustain-a-Bull” businesses build a sustainable Durham

By Leah Gawrysiak
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Last Wednesday, Durham business owners came together to strengthen their connections with each other — and with the community as a whole.

Sustain-a-Bull hosted a mixer at Casbah, a private club located at 1007 West Main St., Durham. The event gave people from veteran as well as budding businesses a chance to meet and exchange ideas.

A recent article in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society shows the link between the effects of small business and population health, and Amy Campbell, Sustain-a-Bull’s program coordinator, said Sustain-a-Bull acknowledges that.

Durham used to be a tobacco town, she said. “It had to find a way to reinvent itself.”

To revitalize the city, fostering small business connection has proved crucial.

Originally composed of 25 businesses, Sustain-a-Bull’s “membership has quadrupled, which is huge,” Campbell said. “That means our logo is out there and people are embracing our message.”

David Rubin, owner of CrossFit Durham and a business member of Sustain-a-Bull, stands at his store front with Sustain-a-Bull’s logo stuck proudly on his window. (Photo by Leah Gawrysiak)

According to its website, sustainabull.net, “Sustain-a-Bull is Durham’s non-profit Independent Business Alliance. We strive to promote and support locally owned, independent businesses because we believe that independent businesses are vital to Durham’s economy, culture, and environment.”

To qualify as a Sustain-a-Bull member business, your business must be owned by someone who lives in the Durham area and have five or fewer locations. It must also be headquartered within Durham city limits.

Justin and Katie Meddis, who recently moved to Durham from San Francisco, said they enjoyed the mixer. The couple plans on opening their business, Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop, in Durham to provide the area’s growing food scene with local meats and pastries. They consider the decision to join Sustain-a-Bull “a no-brainer” and hope to open Rose’s within the next six months, after finding a location.

Sean Sondej, Founder of DirtyDurham.com said, “Like others, I really believe in supporting local business owners because it helps strengthen our community and helps to encourage the next person with an idea to try it out. It helps spur creativity and helps create jobs. And Sustain-a-Bull is a really nice effort to help educate people about those linkages.”

DirtyDurham.com is “dedicated to reclaiming the gritty image of Durham for those that are proud of its rough edges,” according to its website.

David Rubin, owner of Crossfit Durham, considers Sustain-a-Bull “a downtown Chamber of Commerce because at the very least, it solidifies us as a downtown community.” Rubin joined Sustain-a-Bull because “it was just about supporting the community and recognizing the businesses and families down here.”

Campbell said that small businesses are vital to Durham from more than an economic perspective. “Members of Sustain-a-Bull see not how it benefits just their business, but the community as well.”